The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has faced challenging times before, but in recent months, Tehran has been confronted with one crisis after another. The threats of severe international sanctions over its nuclear program are mounting, just as domestic strife undermines the legitimacy of the regime. With its plate so full, why did Iran suddenly decide to taunt Iraq — a country with which it fought an eight-year war — by provocatively raising the Iranian flag on an Iraqi-controlled oil field? The answer may point to even more trouble on the horizon for Iran’s leaders. The startling news […]
NewsHour’s Margaret Warner reports on the continuing protests in Iran. The death of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, one of the founders of modern Iran, has given new life to opposition protests throughout the country. The progressive leader was opposed to the current government and known for supporting the expansion of civil liberties and women’s rights.
The conventional way to look at the Afghanistan war is as a multilateral coalition forming a security scaffolding around and upon which a stable Afghan nation can form. But if you consider the strategic network that is emerging from the war, it might be more accurate to say that Afghanistan is the strategic scaffolding around and upon which a stable regional arrangement is forming. The thought was triggered by Saurav Jha’s WPR briefing on India-Iran relations (which, if you missed it, is really worth taking the time to read). It took shape around Nikolas Gvosdev’s recent WPR columns, in which […]
It’s not often that a U.S. official defends Iran at an international forum. But U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman did just that at the sixth annual Manama Dialogue, a regional security conference organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies held in Bahrain on Dec. 11-13. Feltman deflected charges by the Yemeni and Saudi governments that Iran was providing military assistance to Houthi rebels operating along the Yemeni-Saudi border. Meanwhile, at the same conference, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki provided the most detailed counteroffer to date from Tehran regarding proposals that Iran exchange its […]
Throughout history, the most transparent and blunt expression of international power has involved the projection of military force. Over the years, other forms of power have gained importance, with the concept of “soft power” — or the ability to peacefully persuade and attract other nations to acquiesce to a country’s will — recently gaining prominence as an alternative to traditional “hard power.” But for countries without the luxury of the large military budgets that fuel hard power or the massive cultural and economic assets that underpin soft power, a third way has emerged as a path to global influence. Call […]
In the summer of 1999, during one of the most notable periods of social unrest in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, an ominous letter signed by 24 leaders of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution Corps (also known as the IRGC or Sepah e Pasdaran) was delivered to then-President Mohammad Khatami. In what amounted to an ultimatum, the IRGC leaders expressed their grave concern about the direction taken by the reformist movement, which at the time controlled both the legislative and executive branches of the Iranian government. The letter warned Khatami that the IRGC feared for the […]
Vali Nasr talks to WorldFocus’ Daljit Dhaliwal about the role of Iran’srising middle class. Nasr, a professor at the Fletcher School at TuftsUniversity, says that recent protests are an illustration of Iran’seducated youth and their lean toward the West.
Iran has long been considered one of India’s key allies in the Muslim world. But relations between the two countries have been adrift since India voted against Iran at the IAEA, in 2005 and 2006. Taken aback by India’s position, the Islamic republic responded by blocking already contracted shipments of liquid natural gas (LNG) on the grounds that the price needed to be renegotiated. The move effectively downgraded the Indo-Iranian energy relationship, with Iran subsequently making noises about building a gas pipeline to China, even as Saudi Arabia’s importance as an energy supplier to India continues to grow. However, the […]
When the White House first announced President Barack Obama’s decision to give a speech in Cairo in order to “reset” U.S.-Muslim relations last June, American pundits from the left and right criticized the speech’s location, its timing and its presumed content. Skepticism dominated Middle Eastern commentary as well. In a region battered by conflict and profoundly suspicious of Western intentions, the history of the 20th century, as taught in schools, was dominated by the narrative of colonialism and national liberation, war and resistance. From this perspective, Britain and France simply passed the imperial torch to the United States. So the […]
I’d be remiss not to point out this Arms Control Wonk post regarding Iran’s recent declaration that it would build 10 new enrichment facilities. In a nutshell, Joshua Pollack wonders whether the sites might not end up corresponding to the intelligence files the IAEA already has on other hidden sites., what he calls “compliance in defiance”: One way to see it, then, is that the Iranian side has seized theopportunity to get tough by coming clean, or to come clean by gettingtough. In the two-level gameof international diplomacy and Iranian domestic politics, this sort ofJanus-faced response may be as close […]
A series of recent moves indicates that Iran’s fundamentalist Shiite hierarchy is increasingly wary of extremist Sunni beliefs and the militant practitioners bringing them into the Islamic Republic from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and even Iraq. As part of an effort to halt the spread of radicalism, Iranian authorities are denouncing those tenets and deporting non-nationals who ascribe to them, while combating Sunni terrorists at home. Having been a state sponsor of terrorism for many years, the regime in Tehran and Qom has now begun experiencing a measure of the fear they have previously inflicted on others. In a November meeting with […]